Desktop Publishing with the Mac

BYTE West Coast
BYTE Magazine

May 1985

The introduction of the Apple LaserWriter laser printer has paved the way for "desktop publishing" on the Macintosh. According to Paul Brainerd. president of the Seattle-based Aldus Corporation, the combination of relatively low cost laser printers and graphics-oriented personal computers will make it possible for small companies or corporate work groups to produce production-quality multipage documents without doing mechanical pasteup or resorting to outside typesetting and printing services.

In January, Apple announced the LaserWriter, and Aldus also introduced PageMaker for the 512K-byte Macintosh. PageMaker is a full-page composition software program for the Macintosh that allows the user to blend text and graphical documents on an "electronic layout board" displayed on the Macintosh. It is intended for professional publishing of small jobs such as newsletters, data sheets, price lists, training manuals, etc. Priced at $495 and scheduled for release during the second quarter of 1985, the Aldus system will permit Macintosh users to integrate diverse documents from MacWrite, MacPaint, MacDraw, Microsoft Word, or virtually any program whose data can be stored in the Macintosh Clipboard, a special system buffer used for passing information between programs.

PageMaker is intended to serve the same market as electronic composition systems now being marketed by corporations like Interleaf and Compugraphic. PageMaker is priced significantly lower than these systems, however. A complete system consisting of the newly introduced Macintosh XL (formerly the Lisa 2/10), PageMaker software, and the LaserWriter will be priced at approximately $11,500.

Aldus is currently writing its own drivers to take advantage of the Postscript device-independent page-description language that Apple has placed in the half megabyte of ROM (read-only memory) in the Apple LaserWriter printer. Postscript was developed by Adobe Systems in Palo Alto, California, and has recently been adopted by a variety of hardware manufacturers and software publishers in the personal computer industry. Initially, PageMaker will work with the Imagewriter dot-matrix printer, the LaserWriter, and also with at least two commercially available typesetting machines, Allied and Mergenthaler Linotype. This will make it possible for users to proof and review pages on the LaserWriter and then get finished copy output from a commercial typesetter.

PageMaker uses the Macintosh user interface to present an image of an 8 1/2- by 11-inch page surrounded by a layout board area for temporarily setting text and graphic elements while working on page design. The program uses the Macintosh mouse for positioning elements of the page design. It is possible, for example, to open a window on the display, select headlines, text, or graphics stored in files on disk, and then position them on the page with accuracy. Each selected item is represented by a special icon. The cursor can be represented by a small paintbrush within a half-rectangle when a MacPaint document is selected, or it is represented by a text icon when a MacWrite file is selected. PageMaker permits the designer to set custom column guides and then "flow" text from a MacWrite document directly onto the page layout area. A special positioning indicator permits proper alignment of text at the bottom and top of each column, and the text flow can be continued in new columns or pages or interrupted for the insertion of graphics or charts. "Window shades" allow the user to adjust each separate text block. A "+" sign indicates that the text continues. A "#" icon indicates the end of a document.

To aid in positioning on the screen, both the column guides and up to 10 adjustable rules have a "snap-to" feature that causes a text block or graphic that is moved close to a boundary to automatically align itself with that edge. For precise alignment PageMaker also permits the page to be displayed in five different scales. The largest scale is magnified 200 percent, while the greatest reduction permits the user to view the entire page. At most levels of magnification, text is easily visible. The user can also pop up a set of horizontal and vertical rulers that will display in inches, centimeters, or picas and points.

PageMaker will also provide limited text-editing tools to alter copy while it is being "pasted up." A small movable toolbox window offers a text-editing cursor, a cropping tool, and box-, circle- and line-drawing functions. There is also a set of line and shade menus on the menu bar across the top of the display that permit the user to define and fill areas and shade behind text and graphics.

Icons in the lower left corner of the display represent up to 16 different pages and it is possible to alter the numbering scheme for even larger documents. Two special page icons permit the user to layout page information that will appear on all pages, similar to running headers and footers, but more extensive.

Brainerd says that he expects to see the development of commercial electronic printing centers that can directly receive PageMaker files and return either finished laser-printer or typeset copy.

Aldus says that it also has plans to develop PageMaker for the IBM PC AT with the enhanced graphics display at some time in the future.

Copyright 1985